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`It's been boring to act'

Revathy is set to direct yet another Hindi flick

PHOTO: BHAGYA PRAKASH K.

Revathy

She takes great pride in regional film-making traditions which took her to the apogee of her acting career, but is disheartened at the attitude during the recently concluded International Film Festival of India towards those away from Bollywood, and yet chooses to make more Hindi films!

The bubbly cherub of Tamil, Telugu and Malayalam cinema, Revathy, whose innocent earnestness has won over many a fan is on the threshold of launching her third directorial venture in Hindi.

She debuted behind the camera with the critically acclaimed Mitr and then pulled off a casting coup with Salman Khan and Shilpa Shetty in a touching story of an HIV/AIDS affected person, Phir Milenge.

As paradoxical as her move may seem, it perhaps boils down to plain economics as far as the lure of the Hindi film industry is concerned.

So why a Bollywood film again? "Hindi films do have a wider audience and for the kind of films that I make, the budgets in Hindi are better," explains Revathy.

Like many stars and directors who were not essentially from Bollywood, Revathy too was irked with the treatment they got at Goa.

"Indian cinema in commercial circles is still Bollywood. But at international film festivals like Cannes or even at the IFFI before it was moved to Goa, it's always been films from all over the country. Others were also respected."

It is not just a problem of non-Bollywood movies not getting representation. The organisers hardly knew anyone from the south. "Earlier the organisers — the Directorate of Film Festivals — knew who the Indian film-makers were.

The Goa festival has become a recognition not of good films or talent but only a show of known faces. Attitudes have definitely changed."

Her subjects

While she's not willing to reveal anything about her forthcoming production, she does believe that the subjects of her films have been nothing unusual as such when put in context of the Tamil and Malayalam industry she associates herself with.

"I come from a place where people have respected different films. I myself must have acted in five romances out of every 100 films I have done. Audiences are always responsive to emotions they can relate to. It need not necessarily be romance only. It's only Bollywood that is stuck on romance... regional cinema had gone the other way much before."

While a woman director's perspective of life and relationships may give new light to everyday cinema, she believes that being a man or woman does not make any difference to the way you present a film. "It's about sensitivity and many male directors have been very sensitive filmmakers."

Revathy has put acting on a backburner, doing the odd role off and on like her recent appearance in Nishabd opposite Amitabh Bachchan. Why? "I wish there were roles that would make me think, and challenge me. In the last four years, there have been none," she puts it flatly. "It's been boring for me to act. Nothing that I come across makes me say `Yes! I want to do this.' Women after 35 are never taken seriously in Indian cinema."

She did Nishabd because director Ram Gopal Verma, a good friend, asked her to. "It was very nice working on the project. I mean, what else do you say?" she shrugs candidly and laughs. "It's not always that I have to accept roles... yes, sometimes it's a friend, sometimes a role looks interesting; you feel the role will make a difference in the film. But it may not make a difference to me or within me. Money is also important. But I get total satisfaction when I direct."

Isn't it tempting then, to write a script for herself? While she admits she might do that one day, she is clear about not directing and acting at the same time, because she can do justice to neither. She never acted in too many Hindi films even in her heyday. "I was busy in the south and I made a conscious decision to stick to Tamil and Malayalam films where I got to do what I wanted. I didn't have the patience for Bollywood. Moreover, I'm not fit for glamorous roles."

BHUMIKA K.

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